Wilderness Traverse race 29:50:00  150.0 km (11:56 / km)
It all started with a simple Text "Team Outliers looking for a teammate or 2 for Traverse"
An acquaintance of mine had signed up for his first WT. His team unfortunately (Fortunately!!) had a teammate drop out and needed someone (or 2 )to fill the spot.
After much pondering and discussions with only 5 weeks until race day we jumped on board.
We were joining the WT as a 4 man team of Rookies.
I had my eye on this race for 2016 hoping to get a bit more experience under our belts before we tackled it.. oh well guess we will figure it out..
Our Teammates Pete and Craig are from Toronto and West while Don and I are in the Belleville area.
Training together was difficult, but we did manage to get 3 of us together for a great 14hour 110km day just a few weeks prior to race which boosted our confidence.
Fast forward to night before the race and after a long drive, hotel check in, and finally meet all our teammates we arrived at race HQ and at 8pm received the Maps! I was really scratching my head on the paddle section until one of our guys noticed the extra Massassauga Park Map and that sure firmed the route up for us!
Back to the Hotel and finished prepping our route and admiring Google map software.. Finally off to bed around midnight.
5 am came early and we loaded everything back into vehicles and headed for race HQ.
We had breakfast compliments of WT and prepared for the task ahead..
Some many questions going through my head, is everything in the proper TA bins?, how will our bodies hold up? , How fast should we push at the start? Can we actually race all night and into the next day?
Inevitably 8am loomed and we all made our way to the Seguin trail to start.
With camera's clicking and drones, uh droning,we were off! We shuffled through the first km in a slow run.
We picked up the pace a bit and noted we were not the last team in the Que.
Arrived to the bikes and quickly got rolling on route to the first trek portion.
After biking for less than 5min I was skirting the big water hole on the trail and my chain suddenly jammed between my cassette and spokes!
Upon closer inspection a rock had been kicked up and bent my derailleur hanger in causing the issue. I was able to get the chain back on just as my teammates were heading back in my direction.
We were rolling again and getting very close to the Trek section when we noticed a biking shoe on the trail, so many had went by this shoe in the middle of the tracks but we couldn’t pass it by. We stopped and grabbed it, and delivered it to the TA. We shared a few comments about karma and a long race and hoped the AR Gods were watching. I hear it came in handy! Glad we could help!
Trek started well and we got to 2 without issues, we decided to bush it to 3 instead of going back to road and like a few others I read, left our bearing at the big ridge just before 3. We ended up back at the trail and had to regroup and head back in to grab 3, lost sometime but it’s still early and we are back on track.
A Quick fairly uneventful bike ride to the Paddle TA. Ride was good but with bent der. Hanger I could not use the low gears as the cage would have been into the spokes and probably would have caused a race ending skid..
We transitioned fairly well, picked a couple of 17' Kevlar boats and we were on our way, the tailwind was great and we were flying. Although I couldn't help but think of when the route turned East what it may bring..
Don and I paddled well together as expected (we trained together and both have a fair amount of paddling and portaging experience) Pete and Craig teamed up and were solid as well. It worked well with Don navigating and Craig map watching and confirming route choices. We had to do a quick seat repair on course as Craig’s seat blew a couple of rivets.
As expected it was quite the slog back to the East to CP8 but we powered through and passed a few teams on the paddle, we were still feeling good.
Tried to keep Transition to Trek as quick as possible, changed damp clothes ate some hot oatmeal etc. We were all fairly chilled and anxious to get moving and capture as much light as possible. CP 11 was looming and the closer we got it in the light the better.
Pretty straight forward through 9 and 10 but darkness was already looming as we bushwhacked south East to Moon river. We trekked along the open rocky shoreline wishing for a full moon as it would of made for an awesome setting. We dropped in to 10 and were greeted by more friendly faces, we even received a nibble of steak here! Thanks Guys!
Now off to 11, we had it pretty dialed, hug the lakes on to the south east until we hit the btm of the one lake not in line, skirt it to the east and follow our new bearing to Kenney Lk., where we would slip around the north west side and follow our new bearing to Eagle. This all pretty much went as planned except we ran into a swamp crossing just before Kenney, we were concerned about getting wet with the cold temps and tried to find a way around. It was now approx 1am we started to see many teams converging on our spot. We finally went for it and got a little wet, but we were now on the way. (Next time no hesitation just go) After that we went a bit too far east but corrected and made it to Shangra La at approx 1:40.. we just made it and our spirits were renewed, especially with the hot soup we were so graciously served! Thanks Bent and Goose for the hospitality!
From 11 to 12 was pretty straight forward but seemed long. We hand railed Eagle to Vaughn and made the crossing south, shortly after this point we came across a hunting camp and ATV trail, after checking, following and double checking our bearing we stuck with it. It was such a relief getting out of the junipers and Bushwacking for a bit! At this point I was feeling quite sleepy and was quietly trudging along, when we suddenly came upon 3 or 4 teams that had bush wacked and were deciding if they should take the atv trail we were on. They joined behind us and suddenly the race was back on! I instantly perked up and picked up the pace. We all ended up staying together along the river and into CP12 in the early morning hours.
My left knee was really bothering me for the last 3-4 hours of the trek and I wondered how it would fair on the bike. Craig was also struggling with some hip flexor issues and for the good of the team decided to hang it up at CP 12 so we could go on to the finish. Thanks for putting the teams finish first Craig, next time..
We transitioned ok, I think? I remember things not computing very well as I tried to decipher what I needed with me to ride the bike to the end. I recall walking back and forth from TA bin to bike and not getting a whole lot accomplished.
Finally we left on the bikes as a team of 3, we took the hydro line and used the road route through Mactier to 13. Things were going well and back on the Hydro line to 14 we passed a couple of teams and really tried to push to 14 to get to the canoe crossing first. Just before the CP Don had a hard crash over the bars, he "had his bell rung" pretty good and didn't feel coherent enough to ride for a bit. We proceeded with a few concussion questions and checks and continued across the river @ CP14 (thanks again to friendly helpful CP Staff). We pushed the bikes for about 15min and Dons head cleared and onward we went.
The ride from 14 to 15 really had a lot of climbs which sapped our energy, we knew it was going to be tight to make the 2pm cut off.
We kept pushing and made the decision to take the shorter flatter route of the Seguin back to the finish, instead of the road, it was a tossup but we thought we would be faster on the flatter ground of the trail.
We were just about to enter the trail when one of our team started to bonk, he indicated he could barely stay on the bike. With only 1:30 left and approx 25km to go, we needed to go and fast! We fed him a couple of gels and threw in a short and to the point pep talk and off we went. Within 10 min the sugar or the pep talk kicked in and were moving along well. I kept watching for Tally ho Swords road, knowing that once we hit that we had less than 5km to go. Finally we hit it, but that last 4km seemed to take a long, long time. Clock was ticking down and I was starting to have doubts if we would actually make it. I know we wanted it more than anything and finally there it was ! Race finish was in our sights, we blasted into the parking lot to cheers and applause, we punched our last CP with 10min to spare.
We did it! We came with a goal to finish the full course and we had done it, what an amazing feeling!
When all was said and done we finished 16th overall, we were all very happy for our first time! We had a blast, learned where we can improve and can't wait until next year.
Thanks to Bob, Barb and all the volunteers, it was an amazing event and we all look forward to the next one.
For our Team, Don you rocked the Nav. In the dark of the night you kept your cool and got us where we needed to be. Pete, Strong throughout the race and also aided in the nav. Craig backed up our paddle nav especially and was solid until the hip injury was too much to handle, sorry buddy we really enjoyed your company throughout the race. I felt our team meshed well and we all had a blast! Thanks for having us guys!